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WWII veteran friends turn 100 on same day

Published on 16 Feb 2023

Two Second World War veterans who became friends through our charity celebrated their 100th birthdays on Sunday surrounded by friends and family and enjoyed a special video call moment to share their achievements.

D-Day veteran Ken lives at our Wellbeing Centre in Brighton and met Bletchley Park veteran Margaret Wilson when she visited for a holiday.

It was on this trip that they discovered the coincidence of being born on the same day and have remained friends ever since, catching up and always sitting at the same table for dinner during Margaret’s subsequent visits to Brighton.

A screen showing blind veterans Ken and Margaret on their 100th birthdays
Blind veterans Ken and Margaret connect for a video call on their 100th birthdays. BBC Breakfast was there to cover the festivities.

Both born on 12 February 1923, they celebrated their 100th birthdays on 12 February 2023 at parties surrounded by friends and family. Ken’s party took place at our Wellbeing Centre in Brighton and Margaret’s was at Inspire Youth Arts in Mansfield.

At 3:30pm the two friends enjoyed a very special moment where they were connected through a Zoom call to wish each other a happy birthday and show off their cards from King Charles.

Congratulations from the King

In this short video, blind veteran Ken holds the birthday card that he received from the King. Surrounded by his three sons, one reads it aloud to him.

Ken said: "It feels fantastic to get to the age of 100. I’m so happy to have spent these last few years with Blind Veterans UK in Brighton. I’ve got a huge family and it was just amazing to have all my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren here with me today."
Blind veteran Ken smiling and holding up the card of himself and Margaret
Ken with his card from our supporters
A table displaying a birthday cake, cards and balloons at blind veteran Ken's 100th birthday
Ken's birthday cake and cards

Ken was given a wonderful birthday present as he turned 100-years-old on Sunday.

While he was celebrating surrounded by friends and family, his granddaughter, 34-year-old Stephanie, was giving birth to baby Sonny. Born at 7:57pm on Sunday February 12 and weighing 10 pounds 7 ounces, Sonny was born 100 years to the day after his great grandfather.

Stephanie said: “It’s just unbelievable and amazing how it’s all turned out. My grandad is the rock of our family and I’m so proud of him. The fact that Sonny was born on his 100th birthday is the most amazing coincidence and something we will remember forever. It’s also a lovely early birthday present for his older brother Lennon, who turns five in a couple of weeks.”

Ken said: "It's absolutely marvellous. Everyone is delighted. We're one big happy family, we're all very close. They'll be bringing the baby up to see me, I’m really looking forward to it.”

The family are outside, Stephanie and Kieran look into camera, Lennon looks away
Sonny's parents Kieran and Stephanie and big brother Lennon
Sonny is covered with a blue blanket and has his eyes closed
Sonny takes a nap

Over in Mansfield, Margaret was enjoying a celebration of her own.

She was surrounded by family, friends and fellow blind veteran Simon who recently supported Margaret in writing her biography using equipment we provided.

Blind veteran Margaret is sitting down and showing her birthday card from the King to the camera
Margaret with her card from the King
Blind veteran Margaret stands beside huge pink balloons that read '100'
Margaret on her birthday morning
Blind veterans Margaret and Simon smiling and linking arms at her birthday party
Margaret with fellow blind veteran Simon who wrote her biography. Image set credit: Lauren Roe
"Who would have thought that we would make it all the way to 100-years-old. I’ve had the best day surrounded by my wonderful family and friends and it was so nice to have the chance to speak to Ken and share a moment between our families."
Photo of blind veteran Margaret at Remembrance ceremony
Blind veteran

Providing lifetime support

For over 100 years, we have helped ex-Servicemen and women rebuild their lives after sight loss. Margaret and Ken are just two of many blind veterans who have received this lifetime of support.

Ken signed up to the Royal Army Service Corps in 1942.

He drove all over England fetching and delivering essential cargoes for the war effort until June 5th, 1944. The following day, he took part in the D-Day invasion and drove back and forth, close to the frontline, moving ammunition, fuel and materials as they were needed. He then drove through France, on to Holland and finally to victory in Germany.

Ken said: "Blind Veterans UK have been brilliant to me. It’s awful when you lose your sight as suddenly you can’t do the things that you used to be able to do. The charity has given me lots of equipment like a magnifier which means I can continue to read using the little sight that I have left."

Blind veteran Ken is in black and white and looking into camera

Margaret joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in 1942.

Margaret initially served as a wireless operator then later in the war trained in Vital Communications and went on to work as a Codebreaker at Bletchley Park. After signing the official secrets act she was sworn in by a Justice of the Peace. Margret has kept her vow and never spoken about the secrets.

She said: "The biggest impact the charity has had on me was meeting and being around all those other people, many who had much worse sight than me, who were getting on with life. Before I visited the charity’s wellbeing centre I felt really low, but being there really picked me up."

Blind veteran Margaret is in black and white and looking into camera
“What an amazing coincidence. Their incredible stories speak for themselves and it’s wonderful to be able to bring them together on this special occasion. A fantastic example of the camaraderie that exists between the blind veterans that we support.”
Jackie is smiling and looking into camera
Director of Engagement

Find out how we have transformed the lives of other blind veterans by reading their stories.

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